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How Asbestos Exposure Causes Diseases

Asbestos is classified as a cancer-causing substance. The toxic material formerly used in thousands of products is linked with deadly diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.

How Asbestos Exposure Causes Diseases


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the World Health Organization are among the numerous health agencies that have classified asbestos as a human carcinogen or cancer-causing substance.

The toxic group of minerals once widely used in thousands of commercial products forms as microscopic fibers. When asbestos-containing materials deteriorate, are disturbed or manipulated, the fibers are released into the air.

Once inhaled, these fibers can get stuck deep in your lungs. The buildup of fibers remains in your lung tissue for a long time and may cause scarring and inflammation. This can lead to deadly diseases.

About Asbestos-Related Diseases

Unfortunately, the dangers of asbestos do not disappear once the exposure stops. Asbestos-related diseases develop slowly over time. The symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, and shortness of breath, may not arise until 10 to 50 or more years after a person’s first contact with asbestos. Even then, these diseases can be hard to detect because the signs often mirror those of less severe illnesses.[4] By the time a doctor diagnoses an asbestos-related disease, it is often at a late stage of development.

To date, no treatments have reversed or cured the effects of asbestos, though some aim to help relieve symptoms. These treatments can be expensive, debilitating, and a burden on victims and their loved ones already coping with life-altering illness. In addition, asbestos-related diseases may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress.

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